Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Peter Thompson

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Cem Karayalcin

Third Advisor's Name

Sheng Guo

Fourth Advisor's Name

Sneh Gulati


Entrepreneurship, Firm Survival, Bayesian Learning, Start-ups, Kauffman Firm Survey, Capital Structure, Leverage, Innovation, Diversification

Date of Defense



This dissertation focused on the longitudinal analysis of business start-ups using three waves of data from the Kauffman Firm Survey.

The first essay used the data from years 2004-2008, and examined the simultaneous relationship between a firm’s capital structure, human resource policies, and its impact on the level of innovation. The firm leverage was calculated as, debt divided by total financial resources. Index of employee well-being was determined by a set of nine dichotomous questions asked in the survey. A negative binomial fixed effects model was used to analyze the effect of employee well-being and leverage on the count data of patents and copyrights, which were used as a proxy for innovation. The paper demonstrated that employee well-being positively affects the firm's innovation, while a higher leverage ratio had a negative impact on the innovation. No significant relation was found between leverage and employee well-being.

The second essay used the data from years 2004-2009, and inquired whether a higher entrepreneurial speed of learning is desirable, and whether there is a linkage between the speed of learning and growth rate of the firm. The change in the speed of learning was measured using a pooled OLS estimator in repeated cross-sections. There was evidence of a declining speed of learning over time, and it was concluded that a higher speed of learning is not necessarily a good thing, because speed of learning is contingent on the entrepreneur's initial knowledge, and the precision of the signals he receives from the market. Also, there was no reason to expect speed of learning to be related to the growth of the firm in one direction over another.

The third essay used the data from years 2004-2010, and determined the timing of diversification activities by the business start-ups. It captured when a start-up diversified for the first time, and explored the association between an early diversification strategy adopted by a firm, and its survival rate. A semi-parametric Cox proportional hazard model was used to examine the survival pattern. The results demonstrated that firms diversifying at an early stage in their lives show a higher survival rate; however, this effect fades over time.





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